BUILD AND DESIGN
The C123 is a brick. At least that’s how it felt to me after many years without having to carry a camera that runs on AA batteries. At 6.2 ounces, the C123 is an acceptable weight for a camera in its class, but it still felt like it weighed me down when I took it into the great outdoors.
The right side is about twice as large as the left to accommodate the batteries. There’s a smooth contour as the camera thins out on the left side, which features the waterproof lens, flash, sensor, and microphone. The bulge on the right side features a small, rubberized strip to help users grip the C123.
The body of the C123 is made, for the most part, out of grey and black plastic. The entire front of the camera is grey, while the back has the black panel. In between the two parts is a red rubber seal that runs along a little more than three quarters of the camera, and presumably contributes to the C123’s resistance to water. Aside from the grey color option (featured on our review unit), the C123 is also available in the more colorful shades of blue or red, however the back panel is black on all of the models.
Ergonomics and Controls
The C123’s power button is a bit too far to the left for my tastes, making it difficult to turn the camera on with only one hand. The shutter button is well positioned, however, and once the C123 is on it’s quite easy to use in one handed operation. The top of the C123 features, in addition to the power and shutter buttons, a button to adjust flash, and one to change the capture mode (more on that in the menus and modes section).
The remainder of the buttons not featured on top of the C123 can be found on the right side of the back of the device, next to the LCD. Since the C123 does not have a touchscreen, all of the necessary function keys can be found here. From top to bottom, the C123 has a zoom button, a menu button (next to which is the delete image button), a navigational set of arrow keys, the playback button (next to which is a button that toggles information on and off when in review mode, and can be used to adjust the self-timer and exposure in shooting mode) and, at the very bottom, Kodak’s Share button.
All of the buttons on the C123 are made of rubber, with the exception of the shutter button and the share button, both of which are plastic. These two plastic buttons are by far the easiest to press, which is obviously a boon for the oft-used shutter button. The rubber buttons require a bit of pressure, but are by no means unreasonably difficult.
Menus and Modes
The C123’s menus are simple enough, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are intuitive. As opposed to having a comprehensive main menu, Kodak has scattered options about the camera, and many actions and modes take several clicks to initiate.
On top of the camera next to the on/off switch is the shooting mode button, which lets a user switch between the various camera modes. It’s the second-most extensive menu on the camera, and the one that will most likely be used the most. When first opened the shooting mode menu and is as minimalist as a functional menu could be. Pressing the button brings up a list of four icons on the left side of the screen. These represent the C123’s shooting modes:
- Auto: This basic mode provides average settings, and is the go to mode for normal scenarios. Within auto mode, users can actively adjust settings for flash or white balance, but all settings are basically configured to a happy medium.
- H2O: This mode opens both the photo and video modes that take advantage of the C123’s underwater possibilities. Flash and image fidelity can still be changed, but other settings such as white balance and ISO speed are locked in this mode.
- Video: This is the C123’s normal video mode. There are no adjustable options other than the possibility of using a self-timer. The C123 records 640×480 video at 30 fps.
- Scenes: This mode provides several options for shooting under specific circumstances, with presets for portrait, sport, sunset, backlight, children, bright light, fireworks, and night portrait.
Navigation between these settings and making other adjustments to things like ISO and flash settings were generally slow, partially because of the poor user interface, and partially because the C123 takes a lot of time “processing” before switching modes.
The C123’s display is one of its weakest points. The LCD screen is simply not attractive; the colors are flat, it sometimes lags while rendering the scene in front of it (not so terribly as to hinder use, but noticeably enough to register as a con), and it feels cramped in most cases. The EasyShare Sport’s screen registered a relatively low 293 nit peak brightness in our lab test and an overall contrast ratio of 488:1. The back of the C123 features a good amount on unutilized space, and it would have been very much appreciated if this had been used to expand the 2.4-inch LCD screen.